Burning Flags Press The website of Glen E. Friedman. Renowned for both his work with musicians like Fugazi, Minor Threat, Public Enemy, the Beastie Boys, Slayer (and many, many more) as well as his groundbreaking documentation of the burgeoning skateboard phenomenon in the late `70's, Glen has been privvy to (and has summarily captured on film) some of the coolest stuff ever. He's also an incredibly insightful and nice guy to boot.
SoHo Blues - Photography by Allan Tannenbaum Allan Tannenbaum is a local photographer who has been everywhere and shot everything, from members of Blondie hanging out at the Mudd Club through the collapsing towers of the World Trade Center on September 11th. You could spend hours on this site, and I have.
Robert Otter Photographs Amazing vintage photographs of New York City, specifically my own neighborhood, Greenwich Village.
oboylephoto Just some intensely cool photographs of abandoned places.
The Weblog of Spumco's John K. The weblog of cartoonist John Kricfalusi, crazed mind and frantic pencil behind the original "Ren & Stimpy," as well as "The Goddamn George Liquor Show." Surreal, unapologetic, uncompromising genius.
Back in August, you may remember a quick post wherein my friend Howard Forbes spotted a fleeting cameo of pre-Bleecker Bob’s record store Bonaparte in the otherwise forgettable slasher flick, “The Last Horror Film.” Well, given Howard’s endearingly macabre predilections, he was recently watching another shlocky gore-fest (hey, someone’s got to), this being William Lustig’s “Maniac Cop” from 1988. In doing so, Howard spotted another long lost music shop (and longtime Flaming Pablum favorite), Rocks In Your Head. Evidently, the “opening assault scene” takes place right in front.
I’ve invoked SoHo’s Rocks In Your Head here numerous times. When I think back to the scores of since-vanished record and disc shops of Manhattan, it’s probably the first one that springs to mind. Everything about the place, to my mind, was perfect. Tucked away in a basement-level space off West Broadway, Rocks In Your Head felt like a furtive, underground lair for clandestine music procurement. The staff were gracious and cool (not stereotypical music snobs ala “High Fidelity”) and there was always something new to be heard therein. It was amazing.
These days, the space that had been Rocks In Your Head is now a real estate joint.
Here, meanwhile, is the trailer to "Maniac Cop." It’s a little fuzzy, but you can catch a glimpse of the scene in the beginning….
Late last week, Curbed linked back to a quick entry I’d posted about the impending demise of everything that’s cool about 190 Bowery, calling me a “nostalgia blogger” along the way. I suppose that’s technically sort of accurate, but I came away from that feeling a little short-changed. Earlier this week, meanwhile, after I posted an image of the newly re-designed fountains in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Facebook, a friend of mine flatly declared: “You miss everything.”
While I hate to think of myself as a flagrant nostalgist, I guess it must seem like I do genuinely miss everything (especially coupled with my disdain for so much of what’s new here in NYC).
In light of this, I thought I’d fly in the face of convention and cite six things about New York City that I DON’T miss. You, dear reader, will invariably beg to differ with at least one of these, but then — start your own list:
6. PUBLIC PAY PHONES They required a pocket-full of change, they were frequently broken, they were filthy and smelled like urine .. what’s not to dislike? As much as it's brought along a wide spectrum of new things to complain about, the advent of smartphones has rendered pay phones pretty useless, and that’s fine with me.
5. B. ALTMAN’S 365 Fifth Avenue (now the CUNY GRADUATE CENTER) If you’re a youngster, you probably don’t remember B. Altman’s, but it was a massive department store on Fifth Avenue just north of the Empire State Building. It’s not that I’m a big fan of its then-competitors like Gimbel’s, Macy’s, Bloomingdales and the like, but I remember shopping for school clothes at B. Altman’s with my mother and always having a miserable time. When it closed, my heart cheered.
4. “SEINFELD”/“FRIENDS”/"SEX AND THE CITY” Here’s where I really start alienating people. I’ve never given the single, slightest whiff of a good goddamn about any of these “quintessentially New York” shows. Bullshit, all three of ’em. “Seinfeld” is the most overrated sitcom in history, and the other two are so lamentable that taste and decorum forbid me going into detail here about how much I loathe them. It sucks that they all live on in syndication, but they all made me want to friggin’ move out of New York City with all goddamn speed. That douchey location tours, themed coffee shops and jello shot trivia contests have been spawned in their respective wakes only fuels my ire.
3. LE Q 36 East 12th Street (now a comparatively sedate antique emporium) This probably seems like a fairly obscure one, but it drove me insane. True crime fans might recognize the name as being the location of a notorious 1992 shooting by a Chinatown street gang called the Tung On Boys. I naively hadn’t heard about that particular crime when I moved into an apartment in a building across the street from it in 1996, but I doubt it would have stopped me anyway. Regardless, Le Q was a twenty-four-hour pool hall on East 12th between Broadway and University Place. During the day, it was pretty easy to ignore, but in the otherwise placid dead of night, you had cars parking outside with boomin' trunk-o’-funks, blasting hip hop at volumes that rattled the rafters. More worryingly, however, were the gang activities that still went down there, even years after the afore-cited 1992 shooting. One night, I heard a scuffle outside and ran to the window. From the relative safety of my living room, I watched what I can only assume was an initiation as at least thirty Asian teens brutally swarmed on one hopeful newbie outside of Le Q. They beat the tar out of him in a coldly-calculated spectacle that was both fascinating and horrifying. The departure of Le Q was a moment of great joy for the neighborhood.
2. THE TUNNEL 220 Twelfth Avenue (Not sure what’s there now) I know The Tunnel was a part of Peter Gatien’s notorious circuit of iconic NYC nightclubs that also included The Limelight and The Palladium, but I have to say that I was never a big fan of this particular establishment. I didn’t like the music they played. I didn’t like the scene and I certainly didn’t dig the crowd. I only went a couple of times, but it was never especially fun. I mean, techno and hip hop aren’t really my cups of tea to begin with, but beyond that, the vibe was just kinda unpleasant. I didn’t cry when it closed in 2001.
1. DEREK JETER Sorry. It’s nothing personal against the man…I just don’t give a SINGLE SHIT about professional sports. Never have. Never will. It means nothing to me.
It’s Thursday afternoon, and the pain in my knee that definitively revealed itself on Sunday morning is not only showing no signs of going away, it seems to be intensifying (or maybe that’s just because it’s a grim, rainy day). Either way, it’s still very much with me.
Following conventional wisdom, once the pain started, I immediately stopped running. Consensus suggested that I should “rest.” Well, I haven’t been running, but I’m still walking around, and the nagging ache in my right knee is really starting to worry me. I’d been hoping it’d have dissipated by now, but no dice.
In discussing it further with friends of mine and folks who are more knowledgable than I about running (which is pretty much everybody), most seem to agree that the cause of my pain is probably the increased mileage, coupled with my sloppy form and a likely deficiency in core strength, but my friend Keith pointed a vengeful, accusatory finger at my New Balance running shoes. Being that I initially bought them back in the early 2000’s, or maybe even the late 90’s — who remembers? — they’re probably not as up to the task as they might have once been. I’m planing on investing in a new pair — hopefully ones specially prescribed by some professionals — once my knee feels better.
In the interim, though, I’m feeling deficient. Granted, I’m usually feeling guilty about one thing or another, but after roughly two and a half months of running, this hiatus feels like another failure. How did I manage to botch something that seemed so simple? Maybe it’s just not as simple as I envisioned.
There’s got to be a way to get back on track — literally and figuratively.
While wasting my time on Facebook recently (and, honestly, isn’t that the most accurate way of describing it?) I came across a provocatively titled and needlessly epic-length blog post dubbed “It’s Finally Time to Stop Caring About Lauryn Hill.” Personally speaking, while I do own both The Score by the Fugees and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, I’d suggest that the time to stop caring about Ms. Hill transpired wellbefore the Clinton Administration left office, but whatever.
In any case, in an attempt to frame the passage of time and how it related to Ms. Hill’s celebrated debut album, the author of the post had this to say….
My introduction to this masterpiece is not just an illustration of the power of the music, but how long ago it was released. There are no more record stores, and these days we rarely come into contact with new CDs. The idea of going to a store to discover music seems downright prehistoric.
Somewhat predictably, to the assertion above, I have this to say: Fuck you.
For a start, there ARE still a few record stores, although their numbers are small. I regularly come into contact with new compact discs, and I still think going into a music shop to discover new tunes is one of the best ways to do it (it just requires a little more effort, you lazy so-and-so).
My palpable vitriol notwithstanding, though, this blogger still has a point. Things aren’t like they used to be when it comes to discovering, acquiring and — I so hate to use this word but I suppose it’s entirely applicable - consuming new music. My friend and fellow ILXOR veteran Jody Beth Rosen posted something on my Facebook page yesterday that tellingly and poetically illustrated this point.
The Unofficial Guide to Music in Greenwich Village and More evidently dates back to March of 1995 and it’s a lovingly-if-clunkily composed roster for music shoppers of a different age. I’m sure I composed comparable lists innumerable times. Breaking proceedings down into geographical portions, the piece’s author — one Bob Gajarsky (where are you today, Bob?) cites downtown Manhattan’s then-robust array of record and disc shops, going into detail about the strengths and weaknesses of each shop.
If you miss and fetishize NYC record and disc shops like I do, it’s a tear-stained stroll down memory lane. It’s also worth noting that of about the fifty-or-so shops Bob cites, only about 8 of them actually remain in operation in one form or another. Chew on that.
"I kinda like the freedom of just wearing sneaks, jogging shorts and a t-shirt.”
I made the above declaration back in July, and while it’s still true — I do like that freedom — it doesn’t really apply anymore, as I’ve started to accrue — *shudder* — “running gear.”
Initially wanting to be able to gauge my progress, I took to bringing my iPhone along with me. The stopwatch function on same let me know how long it was taking me to wearily complete my runs. More recently, after I decided to get a bit more serious and increase my runs to twenty-minute sessions, I decided that music would probably help me, so I started bringing my precious 160 GB iPod Classic. In the wake of revealing that, however, a concerned reader named Greg sagely advised that I might not want to do that, as “the disk inside can get damaged from too much bumping around. Best to use a shuffle or something else with a flash drive."
Being that they’ve since discontinued the iPod Classic (and I’ve been thus far unsuccessful in procuring a sealed back-up for when my current one dies), I thought this was prudent advice. As such, I went ahead and got myself a purple iPod Nano.
Even though it’s a comparatively lightweight device (it’s the width of a Trisket for chrissakes), it still carries a hefty amount of music *AND* comes equipped with specially tailored fitness functionality. I just plug in my height and my weight, set it for a twenty-minute run, and it actually gives me progress reports through my headphones as I’m trudging along.
I was initially skeptical, but it’s pretty great. I loaded it up with a slew of quick-tempo’d tunes and it’s made a world of difference. Set on shuffle, I kicked off the other morning scored by “Aces High” by Iron Maiden, which segued into “Nuclear Boy” by Killing Joke (which matched my stride perfectly) which was followed by “Sleepless” by King Crimson, then into “A Promise” by the Violent Femmes and culminating with the splenetic sprint of “We Bite” by the Misfits. Wrapped up in the music, and always anticipating what song was going to come next, I didn’t find myself worrying about how much time I’d spent or had left. The Nano would tell me in five minute intervals how I was doing. It was all working out perfectly.
Well, it was working out perfectly, I should say, until the pain started.
After only a few days of running in these more intensified sessions, I started to feel a little wobblier in the knees. I hadn’t fallen or banged me my leg into anything, but I was started to feel a dull-but-insistent ache just below my right kneecap. Yesterday morning, even though I wasn’t feeling totally great, I dutifully suited up for my AM run, only to swiftly curtail it a few minutes in. The pain in my knee was too distinct to ignore. As I’ve suggested in the past, I’m not out to punish myself — the moment something feels wrong, I’m wise enough to interpret the signal my body is sending. And this signal was coming through loud and clear.
A term used to describe a number of knee issues, runner's knee often occurs because of an increase in mileage. While some harriers will experience sporadic pain, others have problems nearly every time they add miles. The condition can also be related to poor running form and core strength.
Sounds like someone’s got my number. Being that I am indeed experiencing the pain in the wake of increasing my mileage and that — not to sound too self-deprecating — I'm doubtlessly practicing poor running form and probably boast lamentable core strength, it seems like this is indeed the issue I’m grappling with.
Regretfully, I’ve since decided to take a few days off from running to see if this pain will subside. I also invested in a pair of Future knee support braces. I’m disconcerted and discouraged by the development, but I’m convinced there has to be a way around it. I’m just kind of amazed it’s happening already.
Depressing-albeit-unsurprising word is getting around about the strip of Univesrity Place which until recently served as the home of Bowlmor Lanes, a parking garage and a few retail tenants. The illustration at right is not a representation of what's to come, but I thought it looks suitably ominous enough to fit the bill.
Here’s the news:
The Macklowe Organisation has filed a permit to construct a 23 story, 308 foot tall building on the current Brevoort Garage (aka Bowlmor Lanes) building at 110 University Place. For context, the tallest nearby buildings are 10 to 12 stories tall
The following letter from Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation was disseminated in response to the news..
Dear friend, I have some unfortunate news to share with you. Today William Macklowe filed for permits to build a 23-story, 308 ft. tall building at 110 University Place – you can view the permit application here.
We are very unhappy about this, as I am sure are you. Earlier this year, GVSHP wrote to Mr. Macklowe urging him to build a more contextually designed building on this site (see attached letter). Sadly, the zoning for the site does allow a building of this scale.
GVSHP has been working with neighbors and local elected officials both on outreach to Mr. Macklowe to try to persuade him to keep any new development on this site in scale with the neighborhood, as well as to propose and pursue zoning changes and landmark protections for this area that would prevent more such developments in the future. However, to be clear, because both zoning changes and the enactment of landmark protections are a very long process, these are measures we are pursuing to prevent further such changes in the future, not to prevent this development from moving ahead, which would be virtually impossible to do through these means.
We are and will continue to be in touch with local leaders and elected officials about next steps. However, I wanted you to be aware of this news, unfortunate though it is, as soon as possible.
Andrew Berman Executive Director Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation 232 East 11th Street, New York, NY 10003 T: (212) 475-9585 x38 | F: (212) 475-9582 www.gvshp.org
On the southwest corner of Wooster and Grand Streets in SoHo, there used to be a parking lot. I know ... big whoop. Well, much like the rest of the neighborhood, said parking lot was formerly a magnet for street art, and frequently boasted eye-poppingly colorful tableaus that could really stop you in your tracks. Back in the 80’s and 90’s, I used to look forward to walking by it, just to see what was new and different.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I don’t spend nearly as much time in SoHo as I used to, largely because everything I loved about the neighborhood has pretty much vanished. While it may have once been a fertile playground for street art, it’s now essentially nothing but a pricey shopping district. In any case, I was walking through it again earlier this week and sadly noticed that the parking lot I was just discussing is no more. As mammoth new condo is being erected in its spot. That broke my heart a little.
Herewith a few shots I took in the late 90s from that little plot.
To see more of my old shots of street art, click here.
First of all, Mr. Winkie — since you’re not a New Yorker but rather a resident of Austin, Tx (a berg, one could argue, equally saddled with a pompous hipster reputation) — what you invariably fail to realize is that New York City DOESN’T CARE THAT YOU HATE IT. Rest assured, it’s mutual.
Secondly, Winkie sets his sights on “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down” by LCD Soundsystem. To my mind, this was one of the first songs in goddamn eons to rhapsodize New York City that actually managed to GET IT RIGHT. Sure, maybe you lament James Murphy for being cooler than you are (as he quite assuredly is), but isn’t the real deal a bit more satisfying than, say, “Empire State of Mind” by fucking Jay-Z and Alicia Keys (a staggeringly cliched and banal anthem you left off your list for unfathomable reasons, as it makes even me hate NYC, and I was fucking born here)? Whether you haunted the halls of Danceteria and the Mudd Club with Murphy’s forebears or not, there’s absolutely zero arguing that New York City used to be cooler than it is is now. That’s not a matter of opinion, that’s just a fucking fact.
Maybe because they’re easy targets, Winkie also fails to cite “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra and “New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel ... or maybe he just thought they were too hallowed to harp on? You could also argue that "Back in the New York Groove" by Ace Frehley (originally penned by Argent's Russ Ballard for a British band dubbed Hello!) and/or "Native New Yorker" by Odyssey are ripe for condemnation, being that they're both hopelessly dated.
Anyway, it's an infuriating piece, but if you like, you can read it all here.
Word came down this week that mysterious photographer Jay Maisel's 190 Bowery has been sold. As I said on Facebook, I have long been entirely fascinated by this curious building -- hearing rumors of who lives it, how they live and why they choose to live that way. The building itself is a haunting, street-art-slathered wonder to behold. Now that it's sold, everything that's intriguing and endearing about it is doubtlessly about to vanish.
Here are a couple of shots I took of it in the 90's and 2000's. Click on each to enlarge. Enjoy it while it lasts...